When is the last time you took a bus, plane, sat or stood next to someone while waiting and struck up a conversation? How often do you see people getting lost in their mobile devices, shutting out the outside world. It seems everywhere you look, there are countless people addicted to their devices.
Teens seem exceptionally vulnerable to the lure of mobile devices and especially social media. Social media was not designed for teens. Let me repeat, SOCIAL MEDIA WAS NOT DESIGNED FOR TEENS. It’s been estimated that over 70% of teens are not sticking to just one social media site, but bouncing around several. If you’ve read some of our other blogs, you’ll know that informing you, the parent, is our main goal.
During the teen years, the brain is reorganizing itself. (Recall your teen years as a reference.) During these years, impulse control is waning and risk taking is waxing. During this time, allowing a child to access and use social media is one of the most dangerous and disastrous things you can do.
As mentioned above, social media was not originally designed for tweens and teens, but it is being heavily pushed to them. The underdeveloped frontal lobe is incapable of handling the temptation and draw of social media. Even though many schools offer courses on appropriate uses of technology, they are not yet ready to fit into the world of social media. It’s like a pair of shoes that are too big. Yes, they can get their feet in them, but that doesn’t mean you can walk or run in them.
Does a tween or teen have hundreds or thousands of people they truly know? More isn’t always better, especially when your personal information is displayed for all to see. As a teacher, I see tweens and teens hurrying to their lockers between classes to check their phones. What could be so important? Where are the people that they are checking updates from? Social media allows, better yet, encourages, a person to overextend their “friend” base. This isn't healthy or safe.
Social media also dampens the ability of tweens and teens of dealing with face-to-face interactions and difficult social situations. These are skills they will need in real-life and social media is delaying the development. It’s easy to, argue, breakup, or just say what is on your mind when you are behind a screen. You feel safe, powerful, confident. But, would you say those things if the person was in front of you? If not, don't say it one social media.
In closing, we aren't telling you what to do. We are suggesting that you take a look at the facts. If you are allowing your child to have a social media account of any type, monitor it, have their passwords, and make sure their "followers" and "friends" know that the account is parent monitored.
For more information about social media and the teen brain, take a look at this video.